The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

October 15, 2012
by lshearing

October 18 – SEM Conference Dry-Runs

Please join us Thursday, October 18 at 4:30 pm in Goodspeed 205 as we help some of our own prepare for the showdown in New Orleans! Papers will be presented by Alisha Lola Jones and Michael O’Toole. As always, refreshments will be served.


“This Prayer Is UnSpoken”: Redefining Faith, Blasphemy, and Authentic Worship through Musical Performance – Jones

Throughout his 2009 recording, UnSpoken, the Pentecostal artist TON3X explores the queer practices that he believes are embedded in Christianity. Although these practices are generally not discussed in most Pentecostal churches or on contemporary gospel recordings, TON3X uses lyrics to illustrate the kind of honesty toward which he believes Christians should strive. For TON3X, such transparency about specific personal triumphs amounts to a form of authentic worship. To worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) is thus a radical exploration of matters that are not set apart for a particular socioreligious context outside of worship but that have particular saliency within a Christian frame. In this paper, I examine TON3X’s demonstration of worship “in spirit and in truth.” We will consider the extent to which his musical interpretation of authentic worship evokes a less sexually restrictive performance of faith and the re-appropriation of “blasphemy” as a tool for spiritual education and worship.

Rehearsing Publics in a ‘Turkish Art Music’ Ensemble in Berlin – O’Toole

How are publics imagined through the practices of rehearsal? How does the rehearsal space itself constitute a form of imagining a public? Ethnomusicological studies of publics, drawing upon the work of Michael Warner and Charles Hirschkind, have tended to focus on how publics are constituted in and through musical performance as well as media forms such as radio and recordings. And yet crucial to the formation of publics through performance are the ways in which publics are imagined and represented in the practice of rehearsing for a performance. In this paper, I will consider the ways in which a variety of potential publics are imagined and represented in the rehearsals of an amateur ensemble for Turkish Art Music in Berlin, Germany. Drawing on participant observation at rehearsals and concerts, as well as interviews with ensemble members, I will argue that the activity of rehearsing enables participants in this ensemble to imagine themselves as members of multiple publics, as well as to situate the ensemble itself as a form of public-making. I will argue that this process of public-making through rehearsing is crucial to understanding the political context of musical practice for Turkish Germans in Berlin, where the formation of publics is deeply intertwined with local constructions of ethnic, religious, and musical difference. By imagining multiple forms of local, national, and diasporic publics through the practices of rehearsing, performers of Turkish Art Music in Berlin can craft varied interventions in struggles over the representation of identity and citizenship in contemporary Germany.


October 11, 2012
by lshearing

Thank you!

Thanks to all who attended tonight’s EthNoise! Please continue the discussion by reaching Marti Newland at and Paul Kwami at Next week – SEM dry-runs!

October 8, 2012
by lshearing

Oct 11 – Marti Newland and Paul T. Kwami

All are welcome to the first EthNoise! of the year, featuring Marti Newland and Paul T. Kwami

On the Value of Quietness: Dr. Paul T. Kwami Conducting the Fisk Jubilee Singers®

Thursday, October 11 at 4:30 p.m. in Goodspeed Hall, room 205

The Fisk Jubilee Singers, an acapella concert spiritual ensemble comprised of Fisk University students directed by Dr. Paul T. Kwami, continue to perform the concert spiritual singing tradition established by the original ensemble in the 1870s. Renowned for their vocal virtuosity, the Singers regularly present themselves in concert with dignified poise and without the appearance of a choral conductor. This critical examination of Kwami’s conducting describes how his divergence from traditional ideals of Western choral conducting shapes the Fisk Jubilee Singers’ distinct style of self-led performances. Drawing from fieldwork and Kevin Quashie’s The Sovereignty of Quiet (2012), I discuss how Kwami’s mode of conducting educates the Singers about how to manage politics of racial inequality through a quiet presence and make audible their repertoire’s message of Christian faith.

After a brief documentary screening, we will be pleased to present Dr. Paul T. Kwami, Musical Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers® and Marti Newland, Ph.D. Candidate in Ethnomusicology at Columbia University.

There is a pre-circulated paper, available here: Newland UChicago EthNoise Paper

Also, follow this link for a sample of the music to be discussed: